Marcus Semien

Relive three iconic A's victories, performances against rival Astros

Relive three iconic A's victories, performances against rival Astros

Programming note: NBC Sports California will air three classic A’s-Astros games beginning Saturday at 3 p.m. PT.

Since joining the AL West after switching leagues in 2013, the Houston Astros quickly have morphed into one of the A’s most hated rivals.

Those seven seasons have produced plenty of classic matchups, as the clubs finished the season as the division’s top two teams in four of the seven years.

However, the coronavirus outbreak forcing an indefinite suspension upon MLB has robbed teams of getting a chance at revenge on Houston, after the organization was implicated in a nefarious sign-stealing scheme this offseason.

Nevertheless, there's still a way to get your fix, as fans can tune in to NBC Sports California on Saturday afternoon to relive three memorable A’s victories over the Astros.

Lowrie caps comeback -- Sept. 8, 2017

The A’s had their backs against the wall entering the bottom of the seventh inning, trailing Houston 7-3 on a cloudy fall evening in Oakland.

Then Marcus Semien walked to the plate. It took just one swing for the game to be tied at seven as the Bay Area native connected on his third career grand slam. After former A’s outfielder Josh Reddick gave Houston back the lead in the top half, the A’s brought out the power once again. 

Boog Powell led off the bottom half by tying the game with a solo home run, then a few batters later Jed Lowrie brought Semien home to deliver a walk-off win.

The A’s clearly fed off the momentum of that victory, as Oakland went on to sweep the four-game set.

Olson beats Astros -- Aug. 17, 2018

Neck-and-neck in the divisional race, these two adversaries faced off once again at the Oakland Coliseum just under a year later. 

In his 29th career MLB appearance, outfielder Nick Martini was the night’s first hero, tying the game in the bottom of the ninth with an RBI double to bring home Ramon Laureano, who initially was called out before a replay review reversed the ruling.

Slugger Matt Olson came up in the 10th, and lifted a towering shot just over the right-field fence, bringing the A’s to within one game of the AL West lead.

[RELATED: Why Olson's walk-off homer vs. Brewers was so impressive]

A’s offense explodes -- Sept. 10, 2019

A day after the A’s were hammered 15-0 at Minute Maid Park, the A’s returned the favor in a big way with a 21-7 win.

Astros starter Wade Miley lasted just a third of an inning before being relieved, having allowed six runs, all of which came on RBI singles.

Oakland ended up with six total home runs, including two apiece from Olson and young catcher Sean Murphy. It also was the first time in the expansive history of the A’s that the team scored 20 or more runs, had 25 or more hits, and hit at least six home runs in the same contest.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy what likely would have become America’s new greatest pastime this summer: Watching your team beat the Astros.

Five A's takeaways in week of MLB simulation, including red-hot start

Five A's takeaways in week of MLB simulation, including red-hot start

The regular season has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, so all we have is the next best thing with Baseball-Reference's simulated season.

B-R announced on what would have been MLB’s Opening Day that they are teaming up with Out of the Park Baseball 21. This was a way for fans to continue to get their baseball fix, and B-R made sure to ask those on Twitter for help as well as using artificial intelligence to make trades and transactions throughout the season. 

To that extent, Yasiel Puig is now on the Giants -- so let’s get weird. Reminder, that last part is part of the simulation. Puig is not on the Giants ... at the moment. 

So buckle up. 

Here are five A’s takeaways from the first week of MLB simulation.

Chad Pinder wins 2B role

For Oakland, the first thing of note is the second base situation. 

During spring training, the everyday job at the position was Franklin Barreto’s to lose, and in the sim, it appeared Chad Pinder was getting a bit more time at the position than perhaps we would have anticipated. He even started at second base on “Opening Day,” with Jesús Luzardo starting on the bump.

For now, super-utility guy Pinder is batting .231/.444/.923 with three home runs.

Perhaps this was the right move, after all.

(Yes, I know -- this isn’t real).

Tony Kemp also was looking to be in the second base mix as a lefty platoon bat, and he started in two games and got a couple of hits in seven plate appearances. 

Luzardo, by the way, started in two sim games. In 7 1/3 innings, he struck out 11 and gave up six hits.

Khris Davis back?

A's designated hitter Khris Davis has a couple dingers to his name in the first eight games of the season. He’s not quite hitting .247 yet, but he’ll get there.

Marcus Semien once again won’t sit out

A’s shortstop Marcus Semien is leading the home run category with five(?!), and also is batting .267/.371/.800 in 35 plate appearances.

Semien has started in all eight games thus far, and expect that to be the case throughout the season. He doesn’t know how to sit out.

He told NBC Sports California earlier in the year he spoke to A’s manager Bob Melvin about how it had been a personal career goal of his to start in all 162 games. He did that last season, and perhaps he wants to do it again.

Chris Bassitt is your guy

Another note is Chris Bassitt got the nod as a starter against the Twins. He was a possible guy to round out a six-man rotation, but it appears the team stuck to five. He got the win against Minnesota on Sunday, when he gave up six hits in 6 1/3 frames, his only blemish a home run to Byron Buxton.

Last season, Bassitt graciously took over a bullpen role when Blake Treinen struggled with a back injury, with Liam Hendriks serving as a lights-out closer.

[RELATED: A's-Astros series could have set tone for season]

No A.J. Puk

In additional pitching nuggets, A.J. Puk doesn’t have any action in the simulation thus far this season. He had faced a minor setback during spring training after being shut down due to a mild shoulder strain (this isn’t part of the simulation, this actually happened). An MRI revealed no structural damage at the beginning of March, but it was unclear at that time when he would start throwing again.

Melvin said Puk would work on getting stronger before getting back to throwing again.

For now, the Mariners and the A’s are currently leading the AL West standings with a 7-1 record, and the A's swept the Astros at home. 

Why not?

MLB The Show 20 player ratings: Where A’s roster ended up on 100 scale

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MLB The Show 20 player ratings: Where A’s roster ended up on 100 scale

We won't have live Oakland A’s baseball for a while. For now, we have to improvise.

One of the ways the league is making sure everyone stays home is by implementing a way to watch MLB The Show 20 in a tournament put on by the players themselves.

In the game, you’re able to create essentially your own legacy in Major League Baseball.

Just like most games based on professional sports, each individual is given an overall rating.

Here are how some of the A’s players fared, out of a possible best score of 100:

3B Matt Chapman: 92
Closer Liam Hendriks: 88
1B Matt Olson: 86
SS Marcus Semien: 85
CF Ramón Laureano: 83
RP Joakim Soria: 83
SP Sean Manaea: 81
RP Yusmeiro Petit: 81
RP J.B. Wendelken: 78
P Frankie Montas: 76

You can see the rest of the A’s numbers, as well as other players across the league, in this video:

For Matt Chapman, he’s unsurprisingly one of the best third basemen in the game according to The Show’s player ratings -- No. 4 in that category to be specific. Right behind Houston Astros star Alex Bregman, who was rated a 95. 

Nolan Arenado leads the hot corner with a 99 overall rating. Chappy earlier this year told NBC Sports California where he believed he ranked compared to Arenado, Bregman and even Anthony Rendon. Rendon was signed by the Angels in the offseason, which only beefed up the AL West at that position.

Last season, Chappy put up solid numbers earning his first All-Star selection and his second, and consecutive Gold and Platinum Glove Awards. He hit 36 home runs and slashed .249/.342/.506 with 91 RBI.

For Liam Hendriks, who was rated the second-highest on the team, he was the third-highest among closers, with Kirby Yates leading the category.

Last season, Hendriks was sensational with a 1.80 ERA and a 0.965 WHIP in 85 innings. He also earned the first All-Star selection of his career.

[RELATED: Mike Fiers details mentality behind no-hitters]

Marcus Semien also earned high marks with his 85 rating. He was tied with the likes of Adalberto Mondesi, Carlos Correa and Trea Turner. Not a bad group to be associated with.

The ratings at shortstop had a lot to do with fielding abilities. Despite the shift in power we get to see among middle infielders, the glove was a highlight here -- but the bats were all but ignored. Semien has improved drastically over the last couple of seasons with both his glove and offensive game. He was appreciated here.

Angels star Mike Trout also received a 99 rating, which goes to show who the rest of the league has to measure up to.